Tuesday March 11, 2014 Conference Call and Webcast 2:00 PM ESTRegister Now
What is a Pyramid Scheme?
– Dr. Peter J. Vander Nat, senior economist at the FTC, and Dr. William W. Keep, Dean at School of Business, The College of New Jersey, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, Vol 21-1, 139-151, (2002)
A complete copy of the presentation and webcast presented by Bill Ackman, Founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital, at the Sohn Conference Special Event.
Questions for Herbalife Feb. 7, 2013
SEC Response to Markey Letter – March 4, 2014Download PDF
Herbalife investigation: Health products company or pyramid scheme? – March 4, 2014
Flyers stapled to the Toronto streetcar shelter promised the opportunity to “WORK FROM HOME!” for “a billion-dollar NYSE-listed company.” The name of the company wasn’t mentioned, but it’s Herbalife, a behemoth, international, publicly traded multi-level marketing company that’s sold weight loss and health products for more than 30 years.
The flyers didn’t mention allegations the company is a massive pyramid scheme that could one day collapse or be shut down, putting a staggering amount of money — from some of the world’s poorest and richest people — at stake.Metro News Link
FTC Mulls Regulatory Action Against Herbalife Ltd – March 3, 2014
FTC chair Ramirez tells Senator Markey that action against Herbalife is being ‘carefully considered’
US Federal Trade Commission chair Edith Ramirez sent a letter to US Senator Edward Markey telling him that she is considering taking action against Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF), the multi-level marketing company that critics accuse of being a pyramid scheme.ValueWalk Link
UPDATE 1-U.S. FTC says considering lawmaker’s concerns about Herbalife – February 28, 2014
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Friday refused to tip its hand on how it may be react to allegations that Herbalife is a fraud, but said it is taking a lawmaker’s concerns about the company seriously and underscored its record of shutting down pyramid schemes.
“With respect to the allegations against Herbalife, Ltd., a number of statutory provisions and the Commission Rules of Practice prevent me from discussing what action, if any, the Commission may take in any particular situation,” her letter said.Reuters Link
Markey’s Herbalife Concerns ‘Carefully Considered’ by FTC – February 28, 2014
U.S. Senator Edward Markey’s concerns that Herbalife Ltd. (HLF) may be a pyramid scheme are being “carefully considered” by the Federal Trade Commission, the agency’s chairwoman said.
Edith Ramirez, head of the agency, declined to comment on “what action, if any” the FTC may take against Herbalife, according to a letter sent to Markey and made public today by his office.Business Week Link
U.S. FTC says considering lawmaker’s concerns about Herbalife – February 28, 2014
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Friday refused to say whether it is taking any action on allegations made against Herbalife but said it is considering a U.S. lawmaker’s concerns about the company.Reuters Link
Herbalife Throwing Money At Its Problems – February 28, 2014
She broke the news about Herbalife making donations to the Latin groups that supported the company via the NY Post:
Herbalife recently donated money to five of the seven Hispanic groups that signed a letter last week supporting the company.SeekingAlpha Link
FTC Response to Markey Letter – February 27, 2014Download PDF
Legislators Aren’t Buying What Herbalife is Selling… – February 25, 2014
In what seemed like a desperate attempt to make more friends in the State Capitol, mega-corporation Herbalife offered free shakes last week to members and staffers, along with an opportunity to learn more about the company and the product.
Herbalife, however, was likely disappointed in turnout. While there were a few people who stopped by, the morning meeting was short on any legislators. And by short, I mean completely absent.CA Majority Report Link
FTC Shuts Down Fraudulent Net Company Apply Knowledge – February 24, 2014
While it’s always nice to see a fraudulent company get shut down, many are drawing comparisons with the practices of some Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) recruiters who tell prospective distributors that they can make enormous amounts of money by joining the company and selling goods from home.
At its core, Apply Knowledge is a lead generation/marketing system similar to those used by Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) recruiters like Shawn Dahl, and the case shows that the FTC may be paying more attention to multi-level marketing businesses.ValueWalk Link
Not just Herbalife, but an entire industry selling to itself – February 24, 2014
Essential reading for anyone interested in Herbalife, it is undersold by the title — Multilevel Marketing and Pyramid Schemes in the United States: An Historical Analysis. A bit of false modesty there, as it addresses head on the problems at the heart of a business model built around a narrow and potentially flawed idea of legality.
Note also that the paper’s co-author, Peter Vander Nat has been involved in all the recent prosecutions of pyramid schemes bought by the Federal Trade Commission, which has lauded him as “arguably the country’s preeminent expert on pyramids”.FT Alphaville Link
Greenberg: Why Investors in Herbalife and Nu Skin Should Read This Paper – February 21, 2014
Perhaps nothing in the paper is more compelling to multi-level marketing aficionados as their discussion of internal consumption. This is when distributors get compensated for sales to themselves and other distributors. A key issue in the debates on Herbalife (HLF), Nu Skin (NUS) and others is how much compensation comes from internal consumption vs. genuine external sales.The Street Link
Herbalife is not going to answer your questions, senator, but be assured it is a good corporate citizen – February 20, 2014FT Alphaville Link
Herbalife is doing great in China—but maybe not for long – February 19, 2014
What’s interesting: The boom might be short lived. As Quartz has pointed out, the Chinese government doesn’t look favorably on direct-sale schemes, which officials say involve brain-washing and cult-like organizing. Last month, the government launched an investigation into the Chinese operations of Herbalife’s rival, Nu Skin. To meet Chinese regulations, Herbalife said it has a “unique marketing program” in place, but warned that sales could potentially be impacted by “uncertainties relating to interpretation and enforcement of legislation in China governing direct selling” as well as “adverse changes” in the Chinese legal system or government policies.Quartz Link
China to tighten rules on direct-sales companies – February 19, 2014
Beijing plans to tighten regulations on how direct-sales companies train sales staff and introduce products, as authorities probe allegations of abuses by Nu Skin Enterprises, said two people familiar with the matter.
Tighter restrictions stand to affect the mainland Chinese operations of companies including Amway, Herbalife and Avon Products.China Business Link
China Said to Plan Tighter Direct-Sales Rules Amid Nu Skin – February 18, 2014
China plans to tighten rules on how direct-sales companies train sales staff and introduce products, as authorities probe allegations of abuses by Nu Skin Enterprises Inc. (NUS), said two people familiar with the matter.
China’s State Administration for Industry & Commerce is drafting rules that would regulate sales-force training, monitor marketing meetings and tighten application procedures when direct sellers seek to enter new regions in China and offer new products, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the matter isn’t public.Bloomberg Link
Latino Groups Pressing Hard for Investigation Into Business Practices of Herbalife – February 15, 2014
LULAC and its allies contend that Herbalife is a pyramid scheme that preys on the aspirations of its distributors without offering a real and legally viable opportunity for success based on normal business efforts. They say the Latino community, especially those in the lower economic spectrum, are particularly susceptible to what they see as unfair recruitment efforts, including promises—or at least very strong suggestion—of inflated financial outcomes.The Latino Post Link
Latino group pushes for Herbalife probe – February 14, 2014
Calling it “the worst player–bar none–operating in Latino communities across the country,” the executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) continues to push for federal regulators to investigate Herbalife, the California-based diet shake company, ABC News reports.JS Online Link
Latino Group Demands Herbalife Probe – February 13, 2014
One of the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights groups is lobbying members of congress for help in persuading federal regulators to investigate the California-based diet shake company, Herbalife, which has recruited hundreds of thousands of Latino-Americans as distributors to sell its products.
“It’s the worst player – bar none – operating in Latino communities across the country,” said Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).ABC News Link
Ackman’s Latest Target: Senior Herbalife Distributor Leslie Stanford – February 12, 2014
Two things that become clear from reading the exposes are that senior distributors all know and support each other to some degree and there is an enormous emphasis placed on bringing other people into the hierarchy (what Herbalife calls your downline). Unlike the previous profile on Shawn Dahl, there aren’t any convictions to show proof of wrongdoing, but the report shows that Stanford owns numerous companies and websites that encourage the use of lead generation (the practice that got Dahl in trouble), and which seem to make misleading testimonials to get people interested in the business.ValueWalk Link
Ackman launches broadside over Herbalife member earnings – February 12, 2014
Ackman’s new research mentions Leslie Stanford, one of Herbalife’s top distributors and a company director from 2002 to 2005, and her claims that anyone can earn a lot of money.Reuters Link
CT Latinos Join Call for Investigation of Herbalife – February 10, 2014
A delegation from the Center for Latino Progress – CPRF in Hartford traveled to Washington DC this week to join a coalition of Latino organizations and consumer advocates from across the US in asking Congress and government regulators to look into Herbalife’s business model.
The Connecticut representatives joined the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and other civil rights and consumer advocacy groups in claiming that Herbalife is running an illegal pyramid scheme that uses deceptive business practices to target disadvantaged communities, particularly Latinos, with false promises of wealth and success. In reality, the coalition claims, the vast majority of Herbalife distributors earn no income and most end up losing money.CT Latino News Link
Advocacy groups step up pressure on Herbalife – February 10, 2014
Like many MLM companies Herbalife has come under criticism for allegedly pushing distributorships over products. Each distributor who signs up another distributor receives a portion of that distributor’s profits.
The latest to criticize the company is a coalition of consumer advocates that is putting pressure on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to launch an investigation of Herbalife. The coalition, which includes the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), accuses the company of running an illegal pyramid scheme that uses deceptive business practices to target low-income communities, particularly Latinos, with false promises of wealth and success. The groups say the vast majority of Herbalife distributors earn no income from the company and most end up losing money.Consumer Affairs Link
Latino advocacy group pushes for investigation of Herbalife – February 6, 2014
The League of United Latin American Citizens met with Edith Ramirez, chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission, to provide her with details of alleged abuses by Herbalife.
The group has said Herbalife deceives Latinos and other disadvantaged consumers with false promises of wealth and success. Peter Kaplan, a spokesman for the agency, declined to comment or confirm the meeting’s content.Winston-Salem Journal Link
Consumer And Immigrant Rights Advocates Meet With FTC, Lawmakers To Press For Federal Probe Into Herbalife – February 6, 2014
“This is not the American dream,” said 68 year-old Miguel Calderon, who claims he lost more than $22,000 within 18 months of investing in Herbalife in 2008.
A Waukegan resident originally from El Salvador, Calderon said he initially invested $100 to become an Herbalife independent distributor based on the company’s promises that he would make a profit.Progress Illinois Link
FTC Reportedly Meets with Latino Group to Discuss Herbalife – February 6, 2014
The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday reportedly met with a Latino group to discuss complaints about Herbalife, Ltd.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) has called for an investigation into Herbalife, alleging that the marketer of nutritional products lures Latinos with false promises of riches.Natural Products Insider Link
Latino, consumer groups push for Herbalife investigation – February 6, 2014
Representatives from groups like the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles and many others have been in Washington, D.C. this week, meeting with lawmakers and representatives of the Federal Trade Commission.
The groups claim the company targets low–wage communities, with vulnerable immigrants who hope to earn extra cash investing in Herbalife’s inventory to sell, but often finding they can’t.SCPR.org Link
Civil Rights Groups Say ‘Herbalife’ is a Multi-Level Marketing Scheme – February 6, 2014
Calling its campaign “Stop HerbaLIES, the group traveled to Washington DC on Feb. 5 to urge the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to open an investigation. While in the nation’s capitol, members will also meet with legislators from their home states as well as give an earful to Attorney General Eric Holder at the Justice Department.LA Sentinel Link
Herbalife Ltd. (HLF): Alleged Victims Meet With FTC, Call For Probe – February 5, 2014
Hector Cruz of Los Angeles, a former Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) distributor, spoke with ValueWalk this afternoon. He told us that the company basically told him that if he worked hard, he could buy a big home, an expensive car, and become a “rags to riches” story. He said he was told that he could earn $20,000 a month selling Herbalife products.ValueWalk Link
Herbalife Detractors Meet With FTC to Press Ackman Pyramid Claim – February 5, 2014
The League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, met with U.S. Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez to detail alleged abuses, it said. At an earlier press conference, LULAC said Herbalife deceives Latinos and other disadvantaged consumers with false promises of wealth and success. Peter Kaplan, a spokesman for the agency, declined to comment or confirm the meeting’s content.Bloomberg Link
Latinos Pressure Herbalife Over Distribution Practices – February 3, 2014
What the gallery does not show is the spectacle that unfolded outside the convention center on Oct. 18, as dozens of protesters brandished signs saying “Stop Exploiting Us” and handed out a letter to distributors alleging Herbalife has targeted the “family-oriented and trusting Latino community” with false hopes of making easy money selling its products.MintPress News Link
Ackman fires more bullets at Herbalife – February 3, 2014
Ackman’s Pershing Square releases the first of what it promises will be a series of profiles highlighting the deceptive practices and recruitment schemes of top Herbalife (HLF -2%) distributors. Today’s report is on Canada’s Shawn Dahl, a member of Herbalife’s Chairman’s Club until the company distanced itself from him last year. Dahl’s took over his lead generation business, Online Business Systems (OBS) from his mother-in-law and her sister after the two were convicted (in Canada) of operating an unlawful pyramid scheme in Canada in 2004.FTC Watch Link
Pershing Square Capital Releases In-Depth Study of Herbalife’s (HLF) Top Distributor Shawn Dahl – February 3, 2014
Countering Herbalife’s (NYSE: HLF) aggressive buyback plan and solid financial outlook today, short seller Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management released an in-depth study on the deceptive practices and recruitment systems used by Shawn Dahl of White Rock, Vancouver, Canada, who started in 1999 with Herbalife Ltd., a member of its Chairman’s Club until June 2013, and one of Herbalife’s top distributors in recent years.Street Insider Link
No bad apples on the Herbalife tree – February 3, 2014
Pershing Square has launched a new line of attack on Herbalife with a study of Shawn Dahl, until last year one of the top businessmen in the California based multi-level nutritional shake marketing scheme.FT Alphaville Link
Pershing Square New In-Depth Study Released On Herbalife Ltd. (HLF) Practices – February 3, 2014
Pershing Square Capital Management, L.P. released today an in-depth study on the deceptive practices and recruitment systems used by Shawn Dahl of White Rock, Vancouver, Canada, who started in 1999 with Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE: HLF), a member of its Chairman’s Club until June 2013, and one of Herbalife’s top distributors in recent years.ValueWalk Link
Bill Ackman Launches A New Website To Go After Herbalife – February 3, 2014
HerbalifePyramidScheme.com, which was unveiled today, focuses on some of the company’s distributors and their recruiting practices that Pershing Square believes are deceptive. The new site specifically features ex-distributor Shawn Dahl, a former member of Herbalife’s Chairman’s Club.Business Insider Link
Ackman questions Herbalife recruiting tactics on new website – February 3, 2014
Billionaire investor William Ackman on Monday charged that Herbalife (HLF.N), a seller of nutrition and weight-loss products, found new distributors through a business that had been convicted in Canada of running an illegal pyramid scheme. On a new website, Ackman profiled Shawn Dahl, a former Herbalife distributor, and Dahl’s lead-generation business, Online Business System, charging that Dahl lured people to become Herbalife distributors with false promises of making money fast. (www.herbalifepyramidscheme.com)Reuters Link
FTC chief to meet consumer activists about Herbalife – February 2, 2014
One week after Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sent the FTC boss a letter asking her to investigate Herbalife, Ramirez agreed to meet with minority and consumer activists to hear their pyramid concerns about the company, The Post has learned.New York Post Link
The pyramid scheme Herbalife targets Latinos and minorities – January 30, 2014
In the fall of 2008, Miguel Calderon, 68, a resident of Waukegan, got involved with Herbalife due to a persuasion tactic from a friend who was involved with the business….“They are there telling you how everything is going to happen in a high level and one feels enthusiastic. The first thing you have to do is take out money, and that’s how one falls into it. Let’s call it a trap, and one can’t really get out of it,” said Calderon. “I lost around $22,000.”Extra News Link
More clouds over Herbalife with complaints in Canada, letter from Sen. Edward Markey – January 30, 2014
Herbalife, the world’s biggest network marketing company devoted solely to selling nutrition products, has come under renewed scrutiny with reports of complaints about the company made to a regulatory body in Canada and the receipt of a letter from Sen. Edward Markey, D-MA, seeking information on Herbalife’s business practices and compensation plan.Nutra Ingredients-USA Link
Pyramid scheme talk in the House – January 30, 2014
A California congresswoman held a closed-door briefing on pyramid schemes for fellow lawmakers on Wednesday.
The information session hosted by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), the first member of Congress to ask the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Herbalife over pyramid concerns, comes less than a week after Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) called on the regulator to investigate the LA company.New York Post Link
Little Village Job & Resource Fair, 27 Agencies and Businesses, Ald. Munoz Skips 4th Meeting, Herbalife Scam, Latinos Leaders Hold Press Conference, Cuts by Cupid, Movie Review “Lone Survivor” – January 29, 2014
HERBALIFE SCAM: Chicago community Latino activists are calling on Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to investigate the business practices of Herbalife. Herbalife sells weight loss and nutritional products but this a multi-level marketing company that sells products only through distributors who invest their money to get Herbalife products, and then can [supposedly] profit by finding customers.The Hispanic Times Link
Congressional Spotlight Shines on Herbalife Wednesday – January 29, 2014
Congresswoman Linda Sanchez hosted a briefing for Congressional staff members Wednesday on multi-level marketing programs…Attending the event, via Skype, was an undocumented former Herbalife distributor, who claimed that she invested and lost $40,000 in her Herbalife business and was detained by authorities on the way to an Herbalife conference in Atlanta. She was eventually deported to Mexico.Benzinga Link
Herbalife Said to Face Canadian Probe – January 29, 2014
Just days after a Massachusetts senator called for more information about the business practices of Herbalife Ltd., the company is said to be facing a probe in Canada.Natural Products Insider Link
Oh, Canada – January 29, 2014
If you go back to the very first post in our Living the Herbalife series, you’ll play spot the difference between two remarkably similar but corporately distinct websites from 2004.
That went with an FT story about how involvement in pyramid scheme was no impediment to continued participation in the Herbalife business opportunity, and the role of Shaun Dahl, until last year one of the top distributors in the nutritional shake multi-level marketing scheme.
FT Alphaville Link
It Was A Yo-Yo Week For Dietary Supplement Company Herbalife – January 28, 2014
It’s been quite the week for Herbalife, the controversial nutrition and supplement company that’s had the hedge fund world divided for more than a year. A series of regulatory inquiries and personnel changes have sent the stock on a roller coaster ride that started Thursday with a nosedive after Massachusetts senator Ed Markey called for Federal Trade Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission inquiries into a possible pyramid scheme at the southern California-based company.
BuzzFeed Business Link
Canadian regulator probing Herbalife – January 28, 2014
Canada’s top consumer regulator has launched a formal inquiry into pyramid scheme complaints made against Herbalife, The Post has learned.
The inquiry by the Canadian Competition Bureau is tied, in part, to consumer complaints it has received about the controversial Los Angeles-based diet shake seller, sources familiar with the inquiry said.
NY Post Link
Local Latino group launches attack on Herbalife – January 28, 2014
The Californian Link
Which Herbalife Long Will Blink First? – January 27, 2014
Seeking Alpha Link
Will China’s Probe on Nu Skin Lead to Herbalife’s Collapse? – January 27, 2014
The Motley Fool Link
California attorney general to meet with Herbalife critics – January 23, 2014
LA Times Link
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) publishes letter to Herbalife distributors – October 18, 2013
SEC issues Investor Alert: Beware of Pyramid Schemes Posing as Multi-Level Marketing Programs – October 17, 2013
Federal District Court denies Herbalife’s motion to dismiss class action case alleging the company is a pyramid scheme – upholds case law that distributors are not “ultimate users” – filed October 11, 2013
Herbalife’s Claims for Distributors Tough to Swallow – October 7, 2013
Insisten en investigar operaciones de Herbalife – September 30, 2013
Bankruptcy of a Salesman – October 1, 2013
Letter from Boston City Councillor Tito Jackson to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, dated September 5, 2013
Letter from MANA – A National Latina Organization to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, August 29, 2013
Death of a Dream: Top Herbalife Pitchman Takes His Own Life – August 17, 2013
Herbalife Distribution Network in the Spotlight – August 15, 2013
Spot the Difference, Herbalife Edition – August 15, 2013
Pershing Square Responds to Herbalife’s Q2’13 Earnings Results – July 30, 2013
Consumer Groups NCL, LULAC and Others Meet with the FTC to Demand an Investigation – July 15, 2013
FTC May Revisit Pyramid Rules – June 25, 2013
Another Top Herbalife Distributor Defects – June 22, 2013
Pershing Square Press Release re Herbalife’s Survey Results – June 18, 2013
Letter from Dean William W. Keep, Ph. D., to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez – June 17, 2013
Letter from NYC Councilwoman Julissa Ferraras to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez – June 14, 2013
Letter from Congressional Rep. Linda Sanchez (38th District, Calif) to Hon. Edith Ramirez, FTC Chairwoman – June 5, 2013
Letter from Hispanic Federation to FTC requesting an investigation of HLF – May 17, 2013
Letter from Pyramid Scheme Alert to Direct Sellers Association – April 29, 2013
Tupperware White Paper (Spring 2013) distinguishing itself from MLMs/network marketers
FTC Appeal Brief in BurnLounge, reaffirming that sales to MLM distributors are not retail sales – April 1, 2013
Bostick v Herbalife Int’l – new class action filed in Los Angeles under California Endless Chain and deceptive-practices laws, as well as federal racketeering statute (RICO) – filed April 8, 2013
“The Verge: Income At Home, Herbalife, and the $8 billion pyramid”
March 27, 2013
National Consumers League calls on FTC to investigate allegations against Herblife
Mar 12, 2013
Herbalife Lead-Generation Consumer Complaints Released by the FTC, Mar. 11th 2013
“The Verge: Juicing the pyramid: is Herbalife an $8 billion house of cards?”
Mar 7, 2013
Los Angeles Times: Herbalife Cozies UP With UCLA
Feb 22, 2013
CNBC Investigative Report: Selling the American Dream
Herb Greenberg Jan. 9th, 2013
Top Distributor Leaves Herbalife
Anthony Powell President’s Team Member Announcement (Jan 6th, 2013)
FTC Action Against Alleged Pyramid Scheme Jan 28. 2013
Attorney General & FTC Legal Action against FHTM Jan 28, 2013
FTC v. Fortune Hi-Tech Complaint Jan 24, 2013
Former Distributor Testimonials
Legal, Public Filings & Patents
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